How can we prepare for 4th industrial revolution?Digital revolution and smart factories
4th industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. represents period where platforms for digitalisation of factories and general digital revolution of business processes, are being developed.
Such platforms are builded with digital (software applications) and technological (devices) products, forming a networked system with infinite functionalities.
Technological devices are represented in range of Internet of things. These are modern technological devices such as sensors, gadgets, watches, smart phones, scanners, readers etc., all connected to the network. They communicate with the software application and communicate with each other. The digital part of platforms are application models that contain learning algorithms (AI), and algorithms that enables all devices to be optimally connect, and adapted to the environment in which digital transformation takes place.
Factories that want to keep up with global competition, need to think about introducing technology and smart devices into their manufacturing facilities. Each factory is in some way specific in their internal organization, so the projects of creating smart factories needs to be organized in multiple phases, which includes initial scanning and recognition of digital status od factory, plan preparation , implementation and system testing.
Digital transformation and transition to robotized manufacturing, penetrates through all parts of the business system and through all processes in factories. Picture:
What is the best way to transform your factory to a smart factory?
We call it a deploy in intervals. It represents implementations wich takes place in smaller range, enabling both sides (the factory and IT company) to recognize the potential of co-operation, challenges, risks and to create short-term and long-term goals. Transitions to digital smart manufacturing can start in systems that are not directly related to production (warehouse, inventory, procurement). The risks of testing are lower here, and every phase can be easily divided into smaller segments.
The process of transforming a factory into a smart factory consists a several stages. Their width and duration depend on many factors. First of all, good communication between all participants. From the point of view of a factory that implements technology, it is necessary to learn and discover current trends in their industry and general technology, for better understanding. For a software company that provides technology and implements the solution, it is necessary to familiarize with processes taking place at the factory, industry issues, and trends.
Challenges that occur during transformation of factories into smart factories
1. Understanding of technology and firm groundwork in current situation od manufacturing process – Fear of the unknown
2. Educating people to create a new workflow way (processes and tasks), which are necessary at one level. Although smart devices makes may processes much easier, the initial momentum and transition period brings challenges.
3. Estimating the cost-effectiveness of the investment and benefits of the implementation, when defining the project.The analyzes and reports we generate after initial scan, scan help us to create better images of how digital production benefits.
4. Adaptation to a “digital view” where it is necessary to create trust towards software application, and to allow the production process in a certain part to be digitally controlled.
5. Communication between technology implementors (software company) and client (factories) that needs to be on a high level. Reliability, continuous flow, constructive and argumentative nature. With this communication, the implementor of the technology should achieve maximum understanding of the client’s situation and the problems the client faces in their production.
6. Data security issues – massive data generation created by digitalized manufacturing
What does smart factories have?
Integration of Iot devices
Integration of technology devices from IoT (Internet of Things), within ERP software applications and related software for production monitoring. Devices are implemented depending on the type of production/factory and type of industry, and specific issues that arise in manufacturing and business processes. These can be sensors for movement, temperature, quantity recognition, product identification, cameras, readers, etc.
Software support with machine learning concept refers to software that contains application models that uses artificial intelligence to create algorithms based on the obtained data . It can give us the functionality of prediction in software. Data collection with Internet of things technology enables the constant inflow of new events that can be converted to information that is crucial to making business decisions. If any information that comes up comes at the right time to the user, decisions that affects the business are getting faster and more precise.
Autonomous robots – perform tasks with a high degree of autonomy or without of external control. In everyday life, they are popular as cleaning robots, and also it is very known for use in the space industry. In factories wich are going towards transformation into smart factories, machines are backed by robotic devices that replace human work, or robots are set up as special units wich performs actions that have previously involved more than one machine and people.
Augmented reality – is a combination of virtual projection that leans on a realistic image, visible through various devices such as virtual glasses and some gadgets (headphones, wireless gloves). In smart factories it helps us in creating new products, reviving projects. The process of creating an expanded reality is:
Input via sensor and camera projection of the first image processing of virtual elements reflection of augmented reality.
Simulations – we have previously mentioned that data collection technology through Internet of things allows a constant inflow of new events. Such events can be converted to various information by default. In that sense, simulations work in smart factories. Once the system is familiar with input and output information, various projections of possible events are available. For example, we can create a projection of the final price od the product , if the price of a given input is changed. We can simulate the production process by replacing a certain step of the manufacturing process with some other step (different machine, adding a control checkpoint, adding an additional worker etc.).
Each factory has its own specifics. They are reflected in the current use of technology in production, the willingness of human potentional to learn, investment plans and the management of the company that is in the process of transformation.